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Source Information

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

About 1860 United States Federal Census

This database details those persons enumerated in the 1860 United States Federal Census, the Eighth Census of the United States. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to the actual images of the 1860 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration microfilm, M653, 1438 rolls. (If you do not initially find the name on the page that you are linked to, try a few pages forward or backward, as sometimes different pages had the same page number.)

Enumerators of the 1860 census were instructed to record the names of every person in the household. Added to this, enumerators were presented with printed instructions, which account for the greater degree of accuracy compared with earlier censuses. Enumerators were asked to include the following categories in the census: name; age as of the census day; sex; color; birthplace; occupation of persons over age fifteen; value of real estate; whether married within the previous year; whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane, a pauper, or a convict; whether able to read or speak English; and whether the person attended school within the previous year. No relationships were shown between members of a household. The categories allowed Congress to determine persons residing in the United States for collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives.

Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. federal censuses. The population schedules are successive "snapshots" of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Because of this, the census is often the best starting point for genealogical research after home sources have been exhausted.

The database presently includes the following states and territories: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Dakota Territory, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas Territory (includes parts of Colorado), Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska Territory (includes parts of North and South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico Territory (includes Arizona), New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington Territory and Wisconsin.

The United States was the first country to call for a regularly held census. The Constitution required that a census of all "Persons...excluding Indians not taxed" be performed to determine the collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives. The first nine censuses from 1790 to 1870 were organized under the United States Federal Court system. Each district was assigned a U.S. marshal who hired other marshals to administer the census. Governors were responsible for enumeration in territories.

The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date. By 1860, there were a total of thirty-three states in the Union, with Minnesota and Oregon being the latest editions. There were no substantial state- or district-wide losses.

Taken from Szucs, Loretto Dennis, "Research in Census Records." In The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997).

William Dollarhide, The Census Book: A Genealogist's Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes, Heritage Quest: Bountiful, Utah, 2000.

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